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Consider this your perfect ski trip packing list.
For the past 26 years, I've been trained to ski like a champ. You see, as an Austrian girl, I spent almost every winter growing up in the Austrian Alps where my cousins live. My father took us to the mountains, and we'd spend our days powder skiing in some of the best snow the world has to offer.
Skiing is pretty much Austria’s national sport, and therefore, it’s in my blood — I’m pretty sure my father would threaten to revoke my Austrian citizenship if I refused to ski. So snow or slush, we'd strap into our ski socks, base layers, ski pants, and the other million things necessary to stay warm in 10-degree Fahrenheit conditions.
And today, I’m here to share exactly what those ski gear packing essentials are if you hope to have a comfortable vacation. Take it from my decades of ski experience and my disdain for being cold or uncomfortable — you’re going to want to pack the following items (some of which are on major sale for Black Friday). And when you’re done whizzing down the slopes, come meet me at the hut for a nice après-ski toast!
I’m going to start this from the inside out, meaning first up on the list are base layers. The type of leggings you wear under your ski pants is going to vary from person to person. The main question to ask yourself is: are you cold-natured or warm-blooded? I’m someone who shivers at even the thought of snow, so I always opt for thermal leggings.
These Baleaf Fleece-Lined Leggings feature a fuzzy, soft-brushed fabric on the interior which helps to keep you extra cozy while out on the mountain. The fabric is moisture-wicking so if you do find yourself sweating (it is a physical sport after all) then these won’t uncomfortably trap moisture. You’ll also find a handy dandy zipped waistband pocket for you to store your small essentials, like keys and a credit card, and a slip pocket on the side for your phone.
Next, you’ll need a matching thermal fleece top; I recommend the Baleaf Thermal Shirt. Similar to the leggings, these ones also feature a soft fuzzy material on the interior. The exterior has a spandex material fit for physical exercise. The four-way stretch also makes vigorous movements a possibility, allowing you to comfortably show off all your slope skills. And of course, there’s another hidden and zipped pocket on the side for any additional credit cards or chapsticks.
Please don’t attempt to ski in your ordinary socks — they are neither warm enough nor long enough, and nobody wants to deal with frosty toes or socks slipping in their thick ski shoes. These best-selling, extra-high Celersport Socks ensure there is a smooth surface protecting your calves underneath your ski or snowboard boots. Plus, they’re made of high-quality cotton and feature moisture-wicking technology, ensuring your feet are toasty and dry. The various stitch patterns across the fabric are also designed to be movement-friendly.
You can either opt for a scarf or a neck guard, but I find the latter more efficient for exercise. That wind is quite unforgiving when you’re whizzing down the hill, so it’s mostly to protect any cold breeze from seeping into your neck and jacket. This one even has UPF50 protection, guarding you from the sun — which by the way, when reflected off the snow, can be extremely strong. It comes in 12 fun colors so you can match it with your jacket.
Some need it, some don’t, but as I’ve said I’m a coldy-cat so I like to layer an extra sweater over my shirt. I’ll warn that it can get a little toasty if you’re really swinging into every curve and using your full physical capabilities, but on days when it’s 10 degrees and hailing out, having that extra sweater can be the key to an enjoyable experience, especially when it’s made of cozy merino wool like this Kari Traa Rose Half Zip. But even if you don’t wear it on the slopes, it’s something important to pack on a ski trip. The sweater is a necessity to non-ski related activities (like apres-ski), or visiting the old town. When you’re taking a quick break on the mountain top with a nice mulled wine, a (festive) sweater such as this is just what you need.
Now onto the ski jacket. The key components to look for are plenty of zipped pockets on the interior and exterior of the jacket, a flap over the front zip (to keep air from seeping through), a waterproof exterior, a thermal interior, and a generous hood, all of which this Magcomsen Waterproof Ski Jacket has. The hoodie on this one also comes with drawstrings, so if you’re opting to go sans helmet, this jacket will do a good job at keeping your head warm. Where good ski jackets can usually cost up to $500, this option is a true steal without compromising quality.
Some prefer overalls, others prefer pants — they’re both great for skiing, but one is easier to use the restroom in, so I always prefer good ol’ pants. Whichever bottoms you choose, it’s vital that they are waterproof and windproof. That rings especially true if you are a snowboarder, since you’ll find yourself sitting on the snow often to snap into gear, or if you’re a beginner, because you’ll find your butt kissing the snowy floor often. Trusted brand Columbia offers that in these Columbia Modern Mountain 2.0 Pants, with an extra high waistline at the back for additional coverage. You’ll also get an elastic hemline that traps snow and air from entering your pants from the bottom.
Ski bibs are a great alternative to pants, especially since they offer additional coverage and warmth around your middle. My only note is to make sure you order one with adjustable shoulder straps, so you can customize the fit over your torso. There’s nothing more irritating than having straps sliding down the shoulders underneath your jacket each minute. Thanks to the center zip, these Arctix Women’s Insulated Bib Overalls are easy to slide on and off during bathroom visits as well. You can lean on the comfort of the brand’s ThermaTech insulation for lightweight and low-bulk warmth.
Gloves are another vital piece to pack for your trip — you’ll be surprised how functional a seemingly simple item such as this can be. Let’s start with the MCTi Ski Gloves’ more obvious waterproof exterior and extremely warm (and soft) thin, insulated interior. The tips of the thumb and index finger are touchscreen-enabled, allowing you to use your devices without exposing your hands to the freezing cold. The adjustable wristband helps to customize the glove size around your wrist, and a little extra coverage extends out onto your arm so that there is no empty space between the sleeves of your jacket and your hands.
I categorize my ski trips into two: the ones when I didn’t bring a heat pack and the ones when I did — that’s how big of a difference these bad boys make. Trust me, it can be as cold as zero degrees Fahrenheit in the Alps, and a heat pack such as this HotHands Toe, Hand, and Body Warmer can help bring some life back into your nearly frostbitten hands. This package comes with 12 total pieces — five hand warmers, five body warmers, and two toe warmers, which is more than enough for a week away in the mountains.
Believe me, you don’t want to face the whizzing snow bare-eyed. Your face will straight-up hurt if you do, so goggles are an absolute necessity. Not to mention, the sun works twice as hard when it’s reflected off the sparkly snow, and it will blind you from every angle if you’re not prepared. This option from OutdoorMaster gives you proper coverage from UV light, is compatible with all helmets, and has a fog-free treatment on the lens.
Let’s not forget safety measures: you’re going to want to bring a helmet in your suitcase, no matter how difficult it may be to pack. Not only will a helmet protect your head when you’re going 20 miles per hour, but it serves as a warm headpiece as well, keeping your ears and head nice and cozy. Because we’re literally placing our lives in the hands of this item, we’re going to go with a more trusted brand like Smith. This helmet features a lightweight construction, with a fuzz-covered EPS foam interior. It’s shock-absorbant and well-ventilated, helping you avoid both painful collisions and overheating. Although there are six sizes to choose from, you can further adjust the fit using the adjustable dial at the back of the head.
Sunscreen might be the last thing you think about in the dead of winter, but as I already mentioned a few times throughout this story, the sun is quite strong on the mountain when reflected off the snow. Since most of your body is already covered, you only really need a small facial sunscreen to carry around in your pocket. I adore this Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen option, as it happens to be my everyday facial sunscreen already. It has none of that traditional sticky sunscreen feel and basically disappears in a matte finish upon contact with the skin.
Dry air plus sun equals cracked lips! Nothing saves my lips more than this Blistex Medex lip balm. It’s honestly my favorite Chapstick no matter the season as it leaves a nice gloss over the lips while deeply hydrating the skin. Unlike many other lip balms I’ve tried, this one doesn’t require constant reapplication every few hours and actually heals the lips so you don’t need to reapply often.
Last but not least, we’ve got our trusty little Carhartt hat. Even if you opt for a helmet while on the slopes, it still helps to pack a hat for all other occasions while on the trip. The tips of the ears are prone to frostbite, so having them properly covered can save you from a lot of discomfort. Choose between a whopping 36 color options — and stay cozy, everyone!
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